Concomitant generation of energy and chemicals from biomass waste streams

In this 2-year innovation project, the co-production gasification process will be optimized for various biomass feedstock and adsorption-based separation modules will be further developed. Research will focus on ways to increase the yields of high-value chemicals during gasification. This includes using promising feedstock such as lignin and humins, side products from sugar production and sugar conversion processes.

The earlier developed benzene and ethylene separation units will be integrated in a complete process from biomass to BioSNG (Synthetic Natural Gas, essentially methane). The continuous operation of this integrated system will be shown in this project. ECN brings its gasification and gas cleaning experience and facilities, whereas Avantium will use their quick screening capabilities and catalysts know-how as well as
act as supplier of relevant feed stocks to increase ethylene and/or benzene yields. An explorative study will be executed in converting the pure ethylene into benzene and remove this benzene in the BTX scrubber as well. This way all of the generated ethylene will eventually be converted to benzene thereby maximizing the BTX production. In situations where there is no direct outlet for ethylene gas one product stream, liquid BTX, will be generated thereby bringing down storage requirements and transport costs considerably.

The ECN gasification technology is capable of upgrading low-value but highly caloric humins waste to gasified products from which valuable compounds can be extracted efficiently. This proposal combines expertise and research efforts of both groups in perfect match and adds to already existing SNG technologies.

The aim of the project is to create an integrated and energy efficient technology not only for the gasification of humins to valuable products but also by co-feeding humins with other types of waste biomasses. This innovation will contribute to the biobased economy enabling green growth in The Netherlands.

The Dutch government aims to introduce over 20% of energy production via the gasification of biomass in 2050 to
produce green gas and chemicals. Ways of achieving this is by the use of cheap waste as biomass source and by the co-production of green chemicals while generating green energy from biomass. This proposal sets out to achieve
this by three main activities:

  1. Gasification of humin waste streams optionally
    with other types of biomass i.e. lignin (AVT, ECN).
  2. Selective ad- and desorption of ethylene and
    aromatics (BTX) (AVT, ECN).
  3. An explorative study on the conversion of
    ethylene to BTX (AVT, Catalok, ECN).

The Blue Bird project will generate an additional outlet for what now is considered two biomass waste streams (humins and lignin) in the chemical and power production industry.

The innovative and integrated route will maximize the revenues from valuable products from a co-production gasification plant.